The Bombe
(1939-present)

thing and decryption device

Aged 79

The bombe (UK: /bɒmb/) was an electromechanical device used by British cryptologists to help decipher German Enigma-machine-encrypted secret messages during World War II. The US Navy and US Army later produced their own machines to the same functional specification, but engineered differently from each other and from the British Bombe. The initial design of the bombe was produced in 1939 at the UK Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park by Alan Turing, with an important refinement devised in 1940 by Gordon Welchman. The engineering design and construction was the work of Harold Keen of the British Tabulating Machine Company. It was a substantial development from a device that had been designed in 1938 in Poland at the Biuro Szyfrów (Cipher Bureau) by cryptologist Marian Rejewski, and known as the "cryptologic bomb" (Polish: bomba kryptologiczna). The bombe was designed to discover some of the daily settings of the Enigma machines on the various German military networks: specifically, the set of rotors in use and their positions in the machine; the rotor core start positions for the message—the message key—and one of the wirings of the plugboard.

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Commemorated on 2 plaques

Photo of The Bombe, Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman, and Harold Keen red and black plaque
Elliott Brown on Flickr
Photo of Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman, Tommy Flowers, The Bombe, and 3 other
Elliott Brown on Flickr

Engineering Heritage Award The Bombe Bletchley Park Completed in 2007 using the original blueprints. An electromechanical device designed by A Turing, G Welchman and H Keen, used in cracking the German Enigma code during the Second World War. The 200 Bombes built by the British Tabulating Machine Company played a pivotal role in winning the war.

Block B - Bletchley Park , Bletchley, United Kingdom where it designed

IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing Code-breaking at Bletchley Park during World War II, 1939-45. On this site during the 1939-45 World War, 12,000 men and women broke the German Lorenz and Enigma ciphers, as well as Japanese and Italian codes and ciphers. They used innovative mathematical analysis and were assisted by two computing machines developed here by teams led by Alan Turing: the electro-mathematical Bombe developed with Gordon Welchman, and the electronic Colossus designed by Tommy Flowers. These achievements greatly shortened the war, thereby saving countless lives.

Bletchley Park House, Bletchley Park, Bletchley, United Kingdom where it designed